Sharon Yoon 04Korean Minorities in Asian Lands
Sharon Yoon 04 is researching how Korean minorities in Japan and Chinese minorities in Korea form their own identities. No one thinks theyre minorities. Theyre small in number and invisible because you cant tell from how they look, Yoon says.
Yoon spent five months researching in Tokyo, Seoul, and smaller cities in Japan and Korea. She conducted interviews with 40 minority individuals, asking how they see themselves in relation to the ethnic community and to society. Yoon says the interviews were difficult. Some were so emotional that the interviewees, particularly those among the Korean minority population, couldnt complete the process. The majority of Koreans living in Japan are third generation. Their appearance, language, names, and cultural identity are all Japanese, yet they are not accepted by their society, she says.
Because of this, many are compelled to hide the fact that they are Korean. They carry a burden in their hearts, thinking, One day, I will have to tell my friends who I really am, says Yoon. There is so much shame [for them] in the Korean identity.
For Yoon, who is Korean American, this research has been a life-altering experience...Its affected me so much that I want to do this for the rest of my life, she says. She hopes to become a professor of anthropology or sociology. What motivates me is the hope that I can change how people perceive things.